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Psychiatric meds can bring on rapid weight gain in kids

Drugs that alleviate severe mental disorders can also result in troubling metabolic changes

Many young children and adolescents taking drugs for severe psychiatric problems gain substantial weight and, in some cases, show increased levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood, researchers report in the Oct. 28 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Although the data from this study need to be replicated over a longer time frame, the findings nonetheless raise worrisome questions about anti-psychotic drugs that often benefit children who have schizophrenia, autism, tics, severe bipolar disorder or aggressive behavior.

“We are between a rock and a hard place here,” says study coauthor Christoph Correll, a psychiatrist at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y. These mental disorders are severe and can lead to suicide or to educational problems and emotional scars, he says. On the other hand, weight gain during youth predisposes an individual to chronic health problems later in life, he says.

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